For years now, Elizabeth Holmes has served as the embodiment of what might best be described as toxic ambition in the age of big tech.
Founder of the high-profile startup Theranos, Holmes made global headlines in 2014 when she claimed that her company’s game-changing new technology could run a wide array of medical tests using just a few drops of blood.
When Holmes’ promises to investors failed to materialize, Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou launched an investigation which found that the machine Holmes was selling — which she called The Edison — did not actually work.
Now, the 37-old is facing 20 years behind bars after being convicted of duping investors out of millions of dollars.
The verdict was handed down in a federal courthouse in California on Monday.
A jury found Holmes guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
She was found not guilty on an additional four charges, and the jury was deadlocked on three other counts.
Prosecutors might decide to retry Holmes on the hung jury counts, but whatever the case, the former Silicon Valley wunderkind is facing a very bleak future, indeed.
Legal experts say it’s unlikely that the judge will hand out the maximum sentence — 20 years for each charge, likely to be served concurrently — but it seems almost certain that she’ll spend several years behind bars.
Holmes’ downfall attracted the attention of millions and drew comparisons to the arrest of Martin Shkreli, another millennial CEO who was eventually imprisoned for defrauding investors.
Holmes has already been the subject of an HBO documentary, and she’ll be played by Amanda Seyfried in an upcoming Hulu documentary.
Now, the producers of those projects can tack on a sad ending that began to feel inevitable as this trial proceeded.’
Defense attorneys argued that Holmes was merely naive, duped as badly as her investors by her ex-boyfriend and alleged co-conspirator Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.
Attorney Kevin Downey shocked jurors with tales of the verbal and sexual abuse that Holmes suffered at the hands of Balwani, whom Downey alleged was the real mastermind.
Holmes’ legal team noted that she never cashed out any stock, even when news of her malfeasance began to make headlines and affect the companies profits.
“You know that at the first sign of trouble, crooks cash out, criminals cover up, and rats leave a fleeing ship,” Downey said during his closing argument.
“She didn’t do any of them.”
Prosecutors shot down the notion that Holmes was young and out of her depth, arguing that she was an experienced and highly knowledgeable businesswoman who knew what she was doing every step of the way.
“The person on trial is 37 years old,” U.S. Attorney John Bostic said in his closing arguments, according to People magazine.
“That is certainly old enough to know the difference between right and wrong.”
The long list of high-profile Theranos investors included National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and former United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Balwani will stand trial for similar charges next month.
Legal experts say the outcome of Holmes’ trial means a conviction for Balwani is a virtual certainty.
A sentencing date for Holmes has not yet been revealed.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.